New LC Aquatics Center open to the public

2014-02-23T17:00:00Z 2014-02-24T12:07:07Z New LC Aquatics Center open to the publicJohn Burbridge john.burbridge@nwi.com, (219) 933-3371 nwitimes.com

ST. JOHN | Lake Central's spanking-new Olympic-sized pool is fast.

How so, you might ask. Is it filled with high-octane H20?

Not necessarily, but motors are involved.

"They are installed in the filtration system," Lake Central swim coach Jeff Kilinski said. "They help draw the water down the drains faster, making the surface more smooth and less choppy.

"It's also real deep at the turns causing less water resistance coming up from the bottom of the pool."

Kilinski is the head coach for the varsity boys team and the LC Swim Club. He's also the aquatics director at the new pool, which he says should be aptly referred to as the "Lake Central Aquatics Center."

"This is more than just for Lake Central students and age-group swimmers," Kilinski said. "This is open to the whole community."

Both high school and age-group teams started their fall-winter seasons at the old pool.

"We held our first practice in here on Dec. 23," Kilinski said. "We held our first (high school) meet on Jan. 14."

Everything went almost "swimmingly" from the starting block.

"We had to learn how to operate the scoreboard and new timing system," Kilinski said. "There was a lot to take in during a short period of time. Due to the weather canceling all these school days, we didn't get much of an opportunity to get back in here to practice what we learned.

"Things were a little hectic right before the first meet, but we managed to figure things out in time."

When it comes to realizing the full potential of the state-of-the-art "center," Kilinski said he and his staff are still getting their feet wet.

"It's going to be interesting to see when we switch our lanes over to 50 yards (from the winter-season length 25 yards)," he said. "I don't anticipate much of a problem in adjusting the timing system, but we'll see for sure when we make that change."

Challenges aside, Kilinski loves the aquatics center so much he seems completely drained of any nostalgia harbored for the old pool where he emerged as Lake Central's first All-American swimmer in 1986.

"When I first saw this, I was blown away," he said. "I heard how great this was going to be, but to tell you the truth, I wasn't letting myself get too excited. I know how most everything falls short of great expectations.

"But this was everything and more that what I expected."

In addition to high school, age-group and community open swims, the aquatics center is the home of the fledgling Lake Central Masters Association, a swim club for ages 19 and over.

"For our opening sign-ups, we had more than 40 show up," said Abby Homans, the LCMA head coach who also teaches Spanish at the school.

Homans was a star swimmer for Munster, graduating in 2006. Soon after, she starting swimming for a masters program at Munster.

"I still love swimming competitively," she said.

The U.S. Masters Swimming program, which the LCMA is a part of, holds state and national meets throughout its winter and summer seasons.

"But some swimmers do it just to stay in shape ... to become more healthy," Homans said. "Some triathletes do it to improve their swimming times."

The LCMA club practices Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

"We modify our practices and programs to skill levels," Homans said. "We also help people learn new strokes like the butterfly and breaststroke."

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